Northwestern University Knight Lab is a community of designers, developers, students, and educators working on experiments designed to push journalism into new spaces.

The Lab provides an open, collaborative environment for interdisciplinary exploration and conversation, where students and professionals learn together and from one another. In short, we’re energized by hard questions worth answering; we believe in the process as much as the product.

Storytelling Tools

We build easy-to-use tools that can help you tell better stories.

We’re probably best known for our innovative suite of open-source, adaptable, and lightweight tools for media makers. The most popular, TimelineJS, has been used by more than 250,000 people to tell stories seen hundreds of millions of times, and is available in more than sixty languages. We also develop prototypes of tools for reporting, data management, research, and storytelling, often in connection with Northwestern classes. Students from our community have gone on to work at the New York Times, Vox Media, NPR, Medium, FiveThirtyEight, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, and more.

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Studio

Pushing media into new spaces.

Zach Wise
The Podcast Discoverability group present their findings to the rest of the studio class.

Knight Lab Studio is an interdisiplinary lab working at the intersection of storytelling, design, and technology: all media and platforms are fair game. As we work on these problems, we produce cutting-edge digital work, research, and thought — innovating across every part of the media-making process.

Our process combines user and audience research, design thinking, critical and analytical work, iterative building, storytelling, new technology, and a healthy dose of experimentation--often within the confines of a single, specific problem.

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Students and Community

Students make the Lab a vibrant place.

Open Lab

Northwestern students from any school who are interested in media and technology are encouraged to get involved with Knight Lab. Interested students should sign up for the community Google Group to keep up with our public activities and other opportunities. We have two weekly events which are a great way to get started:

  • Open Lab Nights (Tuesdays, 7-9 p.m.)
  • Lab Lunch (Thursdays, 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.)

Students who show initiative and commitment to developing their skills may be invited to join the Lab's Student Fellowship program. Fellows make key contributions to the Lab's technology, editorial coverage, and educational efforts. Students who have been Knight Lab fellows regularly go directly from Northwestern to the world's leading newsrooms and technology companies, including NPR, New York Times, Washington Post, Medium, Amazon, Los Angeles Times, and others.

Learn more about how students get involved with Knight Lab.

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Device Lab

Explore new technology.
Form big ideas.

The Device Lab provides the Northwestern community with a playground to experience and experiment with the new technologies shaping the future of storytelling.

Zach Wise
Mobile Devices in the Device Lab.

Why? We believe innovation happens only when immersed in a problem. It’s no secret that media continues to evolve —the question is how and where we choose to lead.

The path forward begins with access. The lab welcomes any NU faculty, students, or staff who want to try something new. Over time, those who want to develop more expertise can use the lab as an incubator for creative projects that test the limits of new platforms.

We’re open every weekday from 11am-4pm, with students staffed to help you:

  • immerse yourself in virtual reality,
  • speak to a bot,
  • record a podcast,
  • create images using infrared or 3D tech,
  • test apps and games on different devices, or
  • jump into the narrative titles on our gaming consoles.

We're located at Fisk Hall, first floor in the Knight Lab (map).

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Research

Experimental technology for reporters,
consumers, and publishers.

Knight Lab's faculty members contribute experimental ideas and technology to the Lab. Sometimes these ideas are developed in undergraduate classes co-taught by computer science and journalism faculty; sometimes they are developed by Ph.D students exploring specific concepts. Research projects have done everything from help readers find new books to tell them which candidate they'd likely support in an election.

About

Advancing media innovation through
exploration and experimentation.

Northwestern University Knight Lab is a community of designers, developers, students, and educators working on experiments designed to push journalism into new spaces.

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